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American Lung Association Urges People Living Near Wildfires to Protect Themselves Against Staggering Levels of Unhealthy Air Pollution
Date:7/3/2008

WASHINGTON, July 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dangerous air pollution resulting from wildfires poses lethal health hazards to people living and working in the surrounding areas. Residents with respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis and also those with chronic heart disease should take extra precautions during this time and call their physician immediately if problems develop.

"Even those without lung diseases are at risk during this time," said Norman Edelman, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. "With the rising air pollution levels we are seeing in the affected areas, there is increased risk of coughing and wheezing, asthma attacks, as well as heart attacks and strokes, especially for older adults and outdoor workers. Take special care to protect children. They are more susceptible to smoke, because their respiratory systems are still developing."

The American Lung Association recommends people downwind of fire-stricken areas should stay indoors and avoid breathing heavy smoke or ash filled air. Those living in surrounding areas of the fires should avoid exercising outdoors, particularly if they smell smoke or notice eye or throat irritation. When driving through smoky areas, car windows and vents should be kept closed. Air conditioning should be set to "recirculate" to avoid exposure to unhealthy outside air.

"People with respiratory problems and chronic heart disease are at greatest risk during this time," said Edelman. "Due to the extremely high levels of pollutants, many people may be experiencing increased symptoms and should contact their doctor promptly, especially those using oxygen. People using oxygen are strongly cautioned to not adjust their levels of intake without consulting their doctor first."

Those individuals with asthma are also encouraged to contact their physician regarding any changes in medication that may be needed to cope with smoky conditions. The American L
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SOURCE American Lung Association
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